Wednesday, August 17, 2022

ADVANCE PREPARATION

Right about now 
might be a good time 
to practice

picturing some truly
ponderous objects—

red giant 
stars and their requisite 
planets, for instance; 

or maybe the jagged 
enormity of Everest 

and majestic jade sprawl 
of a distant 
Mount St. Helens; 

or perhaps, the deluxe
Frigidaire side-
by-side refrigerator 

humming reliably 
away in the corner 

of your shoebox
apartment on the 
29th floor—because 

without a little effort  
and advance preparation, 

when it counts most, 
it may prove too 
difficult to imagine 

that, in order for everything 
to exist as it is, 
all of it 

first must get 
lifted 
into place.



Tuesday, August 16, 2022

IMAGINE THAT

After all that
hard work 
keeping straight 

on the path, 
imagine 
your relief 

when you're 
finally dead—and, 

just as you suspected, 
you wind up 
in heaven. 

Which of course 
is a place of endless 
harmony and order 

to which no one 
in perpetuity can 
possibly object—

where there's 
no such word 

as outrageous,
and there's 
no such concepts

as crisis 
or danger—

so you 
never again 
need to pretend 

to be
tiresome things,
such as 

brave 
or pragmatic.



Monday, August 15, 2022

BY ANALOGY

If our feelings were the rocks 
which used to litter 
ancient cliffs, 

and our needs
were the bellies
of enormous pack animals, 

than the very first
decent snatch 
of poetry on earth 

was a blunt, bulky 
hand ax, chiseled gracelessly 
from flint.

More contemporary examples 
of the art, such 
as this

may come across 
like the polished 
obsidian tip

of an arrow 
aimed straight at some
more modern creature, 

but either way, 
the outcome 
is the same: 

an uncouth attack,
made in desperation
on its heart—

which, now,
as back then, is a sack 
filled with rocks.



Friday, August 12, 2022

ENTANGLEMENT

This one's addressed 
just to you, 
lukewarm reader,

even though we 
seldom understand 
one another—

let this poem stand 
as a prayer's 
humble opposite:

no hyperbolic paean 
to what's hopeless-
ly beyond us;

just a few mealy words 
to keep you screwed 
to the earth—

its fermented treasure 
troves of dirt, 
under-ripe 

apple groves 
and honey bee 
stingers. 

May its aim curve 
away from complexities 
like god, 

and instead, curl in tight 
toward a charm 
that can't be lost,

toward all of those 
guiltless and selfsame 
and clean

quarks and 
electrons, which spin 
and invent us.



Thursday, August 11, 2022

CONFINES

Would it be somehow more 
or less disconcerting 
to see

that there is no 
one reality 
which undergirds the scene? 

Take, for instance, the dimly lit room 
where once, we 
sat all night, arguing—

slinging gold rings, 
tacking up tents, and drawing with chalk
down the center of the thing.

How painfully small 
it seemed to me then; 

how crammed 
with stale baggage and flooded 
with shame. 

Then again, there could have been 
much more space around us
than we realized; 

that stifling room's true size
might just have been infinite—

although then, one must imagine, 
so too would've been 
the elephant.



Wednesday, August 10, 2022

KILLING TIME ON THE WEST SIDE OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Slow hawk, your cool
but deliberate 
wheeling 

through edgeless, 
haint blue
lap pools of sky—

untroubled
by the faint clangs 
of dissonant music 

flung up 
from our jagged, hectic 
neighborhoods below—

by and by, strikes me 
as the proximate 
reason 

why nobody 
misses a thing  
while they're dancing.



Tuesday, August 9, 2022

CONTEMPLATION STAGE

Sometimes, it's like 
the endgame 
has already passed, 

yet we can't shake the feeling 
that time 
is of the essence. 

In lieu of more self-absorbed, 
we have settled for 
less attentive, 

and the one thing 
we must try to keep 
is our pride 

in the things that 
feel expensive 
after our losses. 

Long hours pass 
in which we do not care 
in praise of which heuristic we sing,

or if we just sit
with our legs crossed 
in peaceable halls, 

determined 
as cowboys 

to subdue 
our own thoughts.


Monday, August 8, 2022

MATINS

Take your time, sun,
but please arrive
when you might

to baptize the dewdrops 
and stifle 
our yawning.

Nearest star of heaven, 
don't neglect us—
bend down

flutter the skirts 
of your luminescent dress,

and scatter all the light 
we could hope to know 
around;

lend us half an ounce 
of your brilliance 
and your insight

to turn our sadness into 
merely sighing 

and a long, dark night 
into merely 
our lives.



Friday, August 5, 2022

OBLIQUE STRATEGY

For the space 
of one of those very 
scant flashes 

which manages, somehow, 
to inspire
as it terrifies, 

I can almost understand—
that I just might love 
missing you 

the same way
these huge, ancient 
poplars love lightning: 

ungraciously,
and sidelong—and all
of the time.



Thursday, August 4, 2022

A BREAK IN THE WEATHER

Actually, it's almost 
unbelievable 
how reliably 

fissures of lightning 
and great groans 
of thunder 

will give way, 
inexorably, to the kindest 
light of summer—

how that fresh, 
honest radiance 
will pour out all over, 

touching and
untroubling every 
corner of the world,

yet always seeking 
nothing—

like a foolish promise 
newly spoken, 

not yet stale 
refused, or broken;

or a sentence 
begun in such 
exuberant earnest 

but still as-yet
unfinished, 

and so still 
so refreshingly 
devoid of any 

meaning, sense, 
or substance.




Wednesday, August 3, 2022

THE THIRD COMING

If Yeats 
could've seen the mad 
21st century, 

he'd say: things don't 
fall apart; they 
hang together ruthlessly.

Ritual has raged its way 
from a safe space
to a battleground, 

wherein 
putrefactive words 
on a sacrificial page 

are left out, each day, 
near the entrance 
to a cave

as blood-dimmed charity 
for this fierce, 
infernal dragon:

a serpent 
bred to torment 
those poor children 

who refuse to praise 
coherence with so-called 
"passionate intensity,"

and whose name, 
legend has it, 
used to be Duty, 

but is now known
in our stories as 
Logical Consistency. 




Tuesday, August 2, 2022

FEAR OF INTIMACY

After a certain point, 
it might really start  
to bother you 

how one damn thing, 
insufferably, converges 
on another—

how every faultless cloud 
drifting silent 
on the horizon 

inevitably crashes into 
and then merges 
with a partner, 

or how predictably 
the pale somber mood
of the evening 

comes bleeding 
like a bruise into 
carefree afternoon. 

There are those of us 
who feel choked 
when there's so little room 

for doubt; those of us 
who were born 
to be lonely  

find the constant, inevitable 
union
of what's separate 

to be less 
a small infusion of closeness 
and of hope 

and more 
of a slow 
drip of poison.


Monday, August 1, 2022

KEEP PRACTICING

Down goes the soft pedal 
on your baby-
grand piano, 

smearing those 
artless and hurried 
arpeggios—while, 

in the background, 
outside the practice 
room window, 

floats the revenant 
of the failure 
that haunts you the most

who bids a good
morning to your 
ritualized devotion 

and prays (on your behalf) 
that death 
and transfiguration 

may be differentiated 
by only two 
or three notes.